David Kirkpatrick

November 20, 2009

Cooler weather, outdoor living and outdoor heaters

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:18 pm

Regular readers of this blog know I’ve done quite a bit of blogging on the outdoor living trend lately, covering grills, fire pits, outdoor furniture and decor, and more. What happens to all that outdoor living fun when the weather turns cold? Easy answer — patio heater. The trick to effective outdoor heating, especially in an open area like a deck or patio — is to use radiant heating rather than convection heating.

Convection heating works by blowing air over a heated surface like many small indoor space heaters work. Radiant heating uses electromagnetic infrared radiation that warms close by objects rather than the surrounding air. This means radiant outdoor heaters will warm you, your patio furniture and even your cold beverage if you don’t drink it fast enough instead of the surrounding air that is constantly blowing around and being replaced with cooler air. Radiant outdoor heating is much more efficient and effective for keeping you warm while enjoying your outdoor living space.

Hit any link in this post to head to Outdora for a patio heater selection that will meet any outdoor heating need you might have. Outdora has both residential and commercial ceiling and wall mounted quartz outdoor heaters, standing patio heaters with push button ignitions and even decorative table-top heaters

The quartz outdoor heaters are all weather and are both efficient and economical. These electric heaters don’t require any warm-up to start heating your outdoor living space and eliminate the need for replacing and storing propane fuel tanks.

You’ve invested in your outdoor living area, make sure cooler weather isn’t keeping you from enjoying that investment during the fall and winter by adding a few outdoor heating units. And if you want portable outdoor heating, Outdora even has a wheel kit you can install on a standing heater to easily move your outdoor heating unit.


The T-bill collapse is troubling

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:58 pm

Very troubling, actually …

From the link:

IT’S THE CRASH YOU DIDN’T HEAR. Not in the price of any security market, but in short-term U.S. Treasury yields.

Treasury bills once again were trading at negative interest rates Thursday, a mind-boggling state of affairs that hasn’t existed since the panic late last year. That followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the assorted knock-on effects, notably the run on money-market funds after the Reserve Fund “broke the buck.”

More significantly, the yield on the two-year Treasury note — the most actively traded security on the planet — fell to 0.669% Thursday, within a hair of the low of 0.657% set in the dark days of last December, according to data on Barrons.com’s Market Data Center.

But now, the economy is supposed to be well on the way to recovery, in contrast to late last year when it seemed we stood on the precipice of a second Great Depression. The Dow is back above 10,000 and bulls claim all’s right with the world. Why, then, would any rational investor be willing to lock up money for two years for the paltry return of less than two-thirds of 1%?

New jobs bill this year?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:53 pm

There’s not much time before the recess, but looks like some measure of employment relief could happen.

From the link:

Continued rising unemployment in the U.S. is prompting House Democratic leaders to consider a jobs bill before lawmakers leave Washington and end the first session of the 111th Congress on December 18, according to House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md. Hoyer told reporters on November 17 that a second stimulus bill is unlikely, but lawmakers might consider taking some type of legislative action to boost jobs. He declined to list specific proposals that might be under consideration.

November 19, 2009

Beautiful nature image — the scales of a moth

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:29 pm

Looks like wrapping paper ribbon.

Mr. David Millard BioScapes Photo Contest: 15 Honorable Mentions ::  Scientific American  staff selections f

Mr. David Millard
Sunset moth wing scales. David Millard, Austin, Tex., U.S.A.

More news from the “no duh” department

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:19 pm

Today it’s from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner:

“This credit crunch is not over,” Geithner at a small business financing forum in Washington hosted by the Treasury. “It may feel dramatically better for large companies, but it is not over for small businesses across the country.”

Want to see a million dollar penny?

Filed under: Business, et.al. — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:06 pm

Here you go:

Credits: Goldberg Coins

More details from the link:

When is a penny worth a million dollars?

When it’s a 1795 reeded-edge U.S. penny, one of only seven known to exist. It recently sold for nearly $1.3 million at auction—the first time a one-cent coin has cracked the million-dollar price barrier.

It follows the sale earlier this year of a high-end collection of rare half-dollars that fetched $1.1 million at auction. At the same time, popular $20 U.S. Saint-Gaudens gold pieces from the early 20th century are commanding $1,700 apiece, sight unseen, in decent, though not perfect condition, topping a record high last seen more than two decades ago.


HTML5 at least two years away

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:43 pm

I’ve blogged about HTML5 before and covered its support in Chrome 3.o. Here’s the latest news about the web language.

From the third link:

While the language itself is almost fully baked, HTML5 won’t fully arrive for at least another two years, according to one of the men charged with its design.

“I don’t expect to see full implementation of HTML5 across all the major browsers until the end of 2011 at least,” says Philippe Le Hegaret, interaction domain leader for the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), who oversees the development of HTML5.

He tells Webmonkey the specification outlining the long-promised rewrite of the web’s underlying language will be ready towards the end of 2010, but because of varying levels of support across different browsers, especially in the areas of video and animation, we’re in for a longer wait.

We hardly knew ye …

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:52 pm

CIO.com has a slightly tongue-in-cheek article titled, “Technology We’ll Miss When it’s Gone.”

I’m going to say this particular bit of tech is, for all intent purpose, already gone:

8. Pay Phones

Every horror movie fan knows the drill: When things get dire, there’s no cell phone signal; or if there is, the battery dies within a couple of minutes (hot link: “Cell Phone Battery Explodes in the Night!“). If only Homeland Security could come up with a system of publicly accessible telephones that accepted pocket change and let citizens make calls from any street corner in America. Alas, the telephone companies have largely dismantled the country’s pay-phone system, though you may still find a few phones in an airport or subway station. Worst of all, the remaining pay-phone stations sit idle and ignored. Whatever happened to turning old phone kiosks into Wi-Fi hotspots?

Cheap, efficient solar cells

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:47 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — This sounds like good news. I’m looking forward to lower cost solar options to hit the market. There’s a lot of news in the space, but not much has translated to the real world. The general public will eventually tire of hearing about the latest and greatest solar ” breakthrough” (and I know I’m as guilty as anyone on that front) without seeing anything tangible. People can only be told the turn at the corner is coming soon so many times.

Thin-Film Solar with High Efficiency
Technology Review, Nov. 19, 2009

Solar cells made from cheap nanocrystal-based inks have the potential to be as efficient as the conventional inorganic cells currently used in solar panels, but can be printed less expensively, says Solexant, which expects to sell modules for $1 per watt, with efficiencies above 10 percent.


Read Original Article>>

The Mighty Boosh

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:46 pm

You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of the Mighty Boosh and you’re not from the U.K. On this side of the pond you can find it on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim nightly block of cartoons, anime and other entertainment for a target a bit older than its usual audience.

The Boosh is a huge hit in England is is slowly catching on here in the U.S. It’s quirky, fun and very funny and is one of my favorite shows on television right now.

Here’s a sample (this clip is from the BBC so there is a short commercial):

And if you really want to get caught up fast, the Boosh just released the “special edition” DVD in the U.S. The set includes all three season and a lot of extra features. I got my hands on this last week and love it. I’d already seen all the episodes, but the extras — a short documentary, outtakes, deleted scenes, commentary, etc. — are worth the price of the set for Boosh fans and newcomers alike.

You can get the Boosh special edition at Amazon here The Mighty Boosh Special Edition DVD (Seasons 1-3).

November 18, 2009

Just in time for the holiday season …

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:45 pm

… tidings of, er, red flags and economic warnings.

From the Brad DeLong link:

For 2 1/4 years now I have been saying that there is no chance of a repeat of the Great Depression or anything like it–that we know what to do and how to do it and will do it if things turn south.

I don’t think I can say that anymore. In my estimation the chances of another big downward shock to the U.S. economy–a shock that would carry us from the 1/3-of-a-Great-Depression we have now to 2/3 or more–are about 5%. And it now looks very much as if if such a shock hits the U.S. government will be unable to do a d—– thing about it.

Wolfram Alpha developing elements of AI?

Via KurzweilAI.net — This sure sounds a lot like artificial intelligence to me.

Innovation: The dizzying ambition of Wolfram Alpha
New Scientist Tech, Nov. 17, 2009

Stephen Wolfram wants Wolfram Alpha to generate knowledge of its own.

Alpha has been exposed to more utterances than a typical child would hear in learning a new language, allowing it to get smarter at understanding how people phrase their requests, he says.

“You’ll be able to ask it a question, and instead of it using knowledge that came out of a method invented 50 years ago it will invent a new method on the fly to answer it.”


Read Original Article>>

The stimulus package and science

Scientific research wasn’t left out of this year’s stimulus plan to the tune of $21 billion, and a federal website tracks all that stimulus.

From the link:

The stimulus plan passed by the US Congress earlier this year provided $21 billion for scientific R&D to be allocated through the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and other agencies. (The full text of the bill is available in this large pdf file.) The debate still rages amongst politicians and economists about just how many jobs the $787 billion bill has created. In the meantime, the government has launched an interesting website detailing where that scientific R&D money went.

Call it propaganda–the site is called ScienceWorksForUS–but it’s interesting to browse through the detailed list and see which research projects were funded and for how much.

Moving nanoscale objects with light

This finding is important toward creating working nanoscale machines.

The release:

Nov. 16, 2009

Small optical force can budge nanoscale objects

By Bill Steele

dual rings
Scanning electron micrograph of two thin, flat rings of silicon nitride, each 190 nanometers thick and mounted a millionth of a meter apart. Light is fed into the ring resonators from the straight waveguide at the right. Under the right conditions optical forces between the two rings are enough to bend the thin spokes and pull the rings toward one another, changing their resonances enough to act as an optical switch.
Image from Cornell Nanophotonics Group

With a bit of leverage, Cornell researchers have used a very tiny beam of light with as little as 1 milliwatt of power to move a silicon structure up to 12 nanometers. That’s enough to completely switch the optical properties of the structure from opaque to transparent, they reported.

The technology could have applications in the design of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) — nanoscale devices with moving parts — and micro-optomechanical systems (MOMS) which combine moving parts with photonic circuits, said Michal Lipson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The research by postdoctoral researcher Gustavo Wiederhecker, Long Chen, Ph.D. ’09, Alexander Gondarenko, Ph.D. ’10, and Lipson appears in the online edition of the journal Nature and will appear in a forthcoming print edition.

Light can be thought of as a stream of particles that can exert a force on whatever they strike. The sun doesn’t knock you off your feet because the force is very small, but at the nanoscale it can be significant. “The challenge is that large optical forces are required to change the geometry of photonic structures,” Lipson explained.

But the researchers were able to reduce the force required by creating two ring resonators — circular waveguides whose circumference is matched to a multiple of the wavelength of the light used — and exploiting the coupling between beams of light traveling through the two rings.

A beam of light consists of oscillating electric and magnetic fields, and these fields can pull in nearby objects, a microscopic equivalent of the way static electricity on clothes attracts lint. This phenomenon is exploited in “optical tweezers” used by physicists to trap tiny objects. The forces tend to pull anything at the edge of the beam toward the center.

When light travels through a waveguide whose cross-section is smaller than its wavelength some of the light spills over, and with it the attractive force. So parallel waveguides close together, each carrying a light beam, are drawn even closer, rather like two streams of rainwater on a windowpane that touch and are pulled together by surface tension.

The researchers created a structure consisting of two thin, flat silicon nitride rings about 30 microns (millionths of a meter) in diameter mounted one above the other and connected to a pedestal by thin spokes. Think of two bicycle wheels on a vertical shaft, but each with only four thin, flexible spokes. The ring waveguides are three microns wide and 190 nanometers (nm — billionths of a meter) thick, and the rings are spaced 1 micron apart.

When light at a resonant frequency of the rings, in this case infrared light at 1533.5 nm, is fed into the rings, the force between the rings is enough to deform the rings by up to 12 nm, which the researchers showed was enough to change other resonances and switch other light beams traveling through the rings on and off. When light in both rings is in phase — the peaks and valleys of the wave match — the two rings are pulled together. When it is out of phase they are repelled. The latter phenomenon might be useful in MEMS, where an ongoing problem is that silicon parts tend to stick together, Lipson said.

An application in photonic circuits might be to create a tunable filter to pass one particular optical wavelength, Wiederhecker suggested.

The work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Cornell Center for Nanoscale Systems. Devices were fabricated at the Cornell Nanoscale Science and Technology Facility, also supported by NSF.


November 17, 2009

Incredible nanotech image — graphene

Filed under: et.al., Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:02 pm

I’ve done lots of blogging on the nanomaterial graphene, and here’s an incredible image of the atom-thick sheet of carbon:

A graphene sheet stretched across a gap in a semiconductor chip. Image: Kirill Bolotkin

And here’s a link to the PhysOrg article accompanying the image.

From the link:

Not only is this the thinnest material possible, but it also is 10 times stronger than steel and it conducts electricity better than any other known material at room temperature. These and graphene’s other exotic properties have attracted the interest of physicists, who want to study them, and nanotechnologists, who want to exploit them to make novel electrical and mechanical devices.

“There are two features that make graphene exceptional,” says Kirill Bolotin, who has just joined the Vanderbilt Department of Physics and Astronomy as an assistant professor. “First, its molecular structure is so resistant to defects that researchers have had to hand-make them to study what effects they have. Second, the electrons that carry  travel much faster and generally behave as if they have far less mass than they do in ordinary metals or superconductors.”

Small business loans down over $10B

Yep, you read that header correctly — more than ten billion dollars of available credit has disappeared for small business while Wall Street and big banking rolls in federal funds.


From the link:

The 22 banks that got the most help from the Treasury’s bailout programs cut their small business loan balances by a collective $10.5 billion over the past six months, according to a government report released Monday.

Three of the 22 banks make no small business loans at all. Of the remaining 19 banks, 15 have reduced their small business loan balance since April, when the Treasury department began requiring the biggest banks receiving Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding to report monthly on their small business lending.

Crunching the numbers on NSA’s new data center

The National Security Agency is planing a $1.5 billion cybersecurity data center at the Camp Williams National Guard base in Utah. This post takes a crack at the numbers and finds the result a bit wanting.

From the link:

For me, the math just doesn’t add up. According to the budget document, the power density will be “appropriate for current state-of-the-art high-performance computing devices and associated hardware architecture.” Yet if you calculate the watts per square foot by dividing the center’s total watts (65MW) by total square feet (1.5 million), you come up with a power density estimate of about 43 watts per square foot. No way that’s “state of the art.”

BBQ grilling

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:53 pm

I’ve done some recent blogging on the outdoor living trend and how it’s led to some people creating entire outdoor living spaces including fully outfitted outdoor kitchens, but things can be much more simple and I bet the first thing that comes to mind when most people hear outdoor living is the humble BBQ grill. Or maybe not so humble, depending on what type of grill you have.

You want to go down-to-earth (literally) basic? Dig a small depression, surround it with some rocks, build a big wood fire and let that burn down, then add a metal grating over the top of the smoldering coals and you have a perfectly serviceable barbecue grill. Of course you can also buy a brushed stainless steel freestanding unit with separate grills for propane and charcoal alongside a rotisserie grill, side burner and a built-in mini-fridge to keep cold ones close at hand.

I enjoy food cooked on a barbecue grill and would be hard pressed to name a favorite. Hot dogs are better grilled, well really better boiled and then grilled, brats are certainly best grilled, hamburgers are great grilled, but one food almost demands open flame — a good steak. Sure you can fan fry steaks or use some other method, but barbecue grilling is the only way to truly prepare a choice cut of beef. For me I like a thick cowboy cut ribeye — that’s bone-in for anyone not familiar with the cut — done blue rare. Lightly seared on the outside, bloody and cold in the middle. Try that on a stove-top. Or better yet, don’t because it can’t be done and you’ll trash an awesome cut of beef.

If you’re looking for barbecue grills hit any link in this post to head to Outdora for a huge selection of grills and grill accessories to meet any budget and need.

Nuclear power may not be the answer

Filed under: Business, Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:11 pm

And the reason might really surprise you — we’re running out of uranium. There’s a lot of talk about building new nuke plants — an idea I like — to help wean the west off of OPEC, et. al. What may come as a shock to many is uranium, the power source for nuclear plants, is going to offer just as many headaches in terms of shortages and being beholden parts of the world with reserves as petroleum provides right now.

Looks like it’s time to redouble the alternative power efforts if we want energy relatively free of the whims of geopolitics.

From the link:

Perhaps the most worrying problem is the misconception that uranium is plentiful. The world’s nuclear plants today eat through some 65,000 tons of uranium each year. Of this, the mining industry supplies about 40,000 tons. The rest comes from secondary sources such as civilian and military stockpiles, reprocessed fuel and re-enriched uranium. “But without access to the military stocks, the civilian western uranium stocks will be exhausted by 2013, concludes Dittmar.

It’s not clear how the shortfall can be made up since nobody seems to know where the mining industry can look for more.

NASA’s Wise ready for launch

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:33 am

Hot from the inbox:

NASA’s Wise Eye Gets Ready To Survey the Whole Sky

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or Wise, is chilled out, sporting a sunshade and getting ready to roll. NASA’s newest spacecraft is scheduled to roll to the pad on Friday, Nov. 20, its last stop before launching into space to survey the entire sky in infrared light.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

Wise is scheduled to launch no earlier than 9:09 a.m. EST on Dec. 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It will circle Earth over the poles, scanning the entire sky one-and-a-half times in nine months. The mission will uncover hidden cosmic objects, including the coolest stars, dark asteroids and the most luminous galaxies.

“The eyes of Wise are a vast improvement over those of past infrared surveys,” said Edward “Ned” Wright, the principal investigator for the mission at UCLA. “We will find millions of objects that have never been seen before.”

The mission will map the entire sky at four infrared wavelengths with sensitivity hundreds to hundreds of thousands of times greater than its predecessors, cataloging hundreds of millions of objects. The data will serve as navigation charts for other missions, pointing them to the most interesting targets. NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, and NASA’s upcoming Sofia and James Webb Space Telescope will follow up on Wise finds.

“This is an exciting time for space telescopes,” said Jon Morse, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Many of the telescopes will work together, each contributing different pieces to some of the most intriguing puzzles in our universe.”

Visible light is just one slice of the universe’s electromagnetic rainbow. Infrared light, which humans can’t see, has longer wavelengths and is good for seeing objects that are cold, dusty or far away. In our solar system, Wise is expected to find hundreds of thousands of cool asteroids, including hundreds that pass relatively close to Earth’s path. Wise’s infrared measurements will provide better estimates of asteroid sizes and compositions — important information for understanding more about potentially hazardous impacts on Earth.

“With infrared, we can find the dark asteroids other surveys have missed and learn about the whole population. Are they mostly big, small, fluffy or hard?” said Peter Eisenhardt, the Wise project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Wise also will find the coolest of the “failed” stars or brown dwarfs. Scientists speculate it is possible that a cool star lurks right under our noses, closer to us than our nearest known star, Proxima Centauri, which is four light-years away. If so, Wise will easily pick up its glow. The mission also will spot dusty nests of stars and swirling planet-forming disks, and may find the most luminous galaxy in the universe.

To sense the infrared glow of stars and galaxies, the Wise spacecraft cannot give off any detectable infrared light of its own. This is accomplished by chilling the telescope and detectors to ultra-cold temperatures. The coldest of Wise’s detectors will operate at below 8 Kelvin, or minus 445 Fahrenheit.

“Wise is chilled out,” said William Irace, the project manager at JPL. “We’ve finished freezing the hydrogen that fills two tanks surrounding the science instrument. We’re ready to explore the universe in infrared.”

JPL manages Wise for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The mission was competitively selected under NASA’s Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about the Wise mission is available online at:


Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

November 16, 2009

Business tax credit for job creation

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:56 pm

A good idea that ought to become a law:

A Democratic US senator on Friday unveiled details of a plan to create a tax credit for businesses that create jobs, as the White House has called a December summit to tackle sky-high unemployment

Senator Russ Feingold’s proposal would establish a tax credit over the next two years for businesses that hire new employees, expand work hours for current employees, or raise worker pay, his office said.

“While there’s no easy way to solve the unemployment problem, the jobs tax credit would be a targeted and responsible tool to help businesses hire workers and bring down unemployment,” according to Feingold.

The credit would amount to 15 percent of eligible payroll for 2010 and 10 percent in 2011 — and would exclude pay increases for very highly salaried workers, as well as the wages of firm owners or family members.

Beautiful nanotech image — photovoltaic solar cell

This is a nice gallery of nanotech images from New Scientist. Here’s the description from the series, “Chemist George Whitesides has collaborated with MIT and Harvard photographer-in-residence Felice Frankel to produce No Small Matter, a book of images of the micro and nanoworld.”

From the first image, my favorite:

Sun catchers

This is a close-up of the top side of a photovoltaic solar cell. The cell converts the energy from the sun’s photons into electrical energy by taking advantage of the photo-electric effect. This cell is made of a wafer of crystalline silicon.

Light is absorbed by the wafer and creates charge that is collected by silver conductor lines, shown in the image as the gold-coloured strip. The cell is coated with silicon nitride which acts as an anti-reflective surface, preventing light energy from bouncing away and giving the cell its blue-violet colour.

Rather than attaching solar panels to our roofs, recent research suggests that in the future we could paint solar cells on to our houses, removing the need to rely on expensive silicon wafers.

(Image: Felice Frankel)

Meet the latest supercomputing champ — Jaguar Cray

Via KurzweilAI.net — Over one petaflop per second!

Cray’s Jaquar now world’s fastest supercomputer
KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 15, 2009

The Jaguar Cray supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has become the world’s most powerful supercomputer, at 1.75 petaflops per second, edging out the IBM Roadrunner system at the U.S. Department of Energy‘s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, which has slowed slightly to 1.04 petaflops per second.

The newest version of the TOP500 list, which is issued twice yearly, will be formally presented on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the SC09 Conference, to be held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

Source: Top 500 news release

CO2 capture and geothermal energy

More green tech backed with Department of Energy money. Sounds interesting if nothing else.

From the link:

Backers of this as-yet-unproven concept secured a big endorsement and much-needed cash with the U.S. Department of Energy’s recent award of $338 million in federal stimulus funds for geothermal energy research. Some $16 million of the funds will be shared by nine carbon dioxide-related projects led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and other national labs, Sunnyvale, CA-based combinatorial chemistry firm Symyx Technologies, and several U.S. universities.

The idea: Carbon dioxide that’s cycled through hot regions kilometers underground can efficiently bring heat to the surface, where it can be used to generate electricity. The likelihood is that the process would leave lots of carbon dioxide underground, and thus out of the atmosphere, according to Symyx project leader and materials scientist Miroslav Petro. “You’re sequestering CO₂ and at the same time generating power from it.”

DoE putting money into lithium-sulfur batteries

Lithium-sulfur batteries are an alternative to lithium-ion batteries with three times the storage. Early prototypes were pretty dodgy, but more research is now going on supported by Department of Energy grant money.

From the link:

Earlier this year we reported on several advances geared toward addressing these problems, and noted that these advances had caught the eye of the chemical giant BASF, which is now working to bring lithium-sulfur batteries to market. But challenges remain, including bringing down costs. Now the Department of Energy has also taken an interest in the technology. This week Sion Power Cooperation (which is working with BASF) announced that it has received a three-year, $800,000 DOE grant to further develop the lithium-sulfur batteries for electric vehicles.

Job search and identity scams

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:03 pm

There are a lot of people searching for employment right now and there are plenty of scammers after the information job searchers are providing. Particularly identity theft artists. Resumes, and if it gets this far, employment applications are a treasure trove for ID theft crooks. A close acquaintance of mine had to ferret out a pretty significant ID theft threat while looking for work just last week.

These things have been around forever, and I usually get to laugh at, or get annoyed by at least a few each year since as a freelance writer one way I increase my client base (and the least preferred method compared to clients seeking me out or getting referrals from other clients or colleagues) is responding to blind ads seeking freelance content or other writing services. A lot of these ads are just horseshit companies looking to not pay for any services rendered, but every once in a while I come across a full-blown scam. Typically not very veiled for anyone with any amount of background in online scams.

The moral here? If you are looking for work, don’t let your situation allow you to let your guard down against scams and identity theft threats.

From the first link:

“We have seen a large proliferation of these scams over the past six to nine months because of the employment situation,” says Lyn Chitow Oaks, chief marketing officer of TrustedID, which provides identity-theft protection services to individuals, families and businesses.

She notes that identity thieves are targeting job seekers because they’re vulnerable and willing to share personal information as part of the job search process.

Two types of job search scams are most common, according to Oaks. One is a phishing scam, where identity theft perpetrators e-mail would-be victims to tell them about potential jobs and opportunities to make extra money. The e-mails direct recipients to websites that identity thieves have created specifically for gathering personal information, just as if it were a job application, says Oaks.

These fake applications request all the information job seekers would expect to provide, such as their name, address and phone number, as well as for information they may not expect to offer so early in the process, she adds, such as their Social Security number, permission to conduct a background check and bank account information.

“They tell you they need your bank account information so they can make sure your check can be direct deposited,” she says, adding that they’ll sometimes go so far as to say that they’ll place money in your account and then remove it just to make sure it work

November 14, 2009

This “overview” of Palin’s book …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:09 pm

… really reads like someone — namely Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg — was working hard to meet a word count.

From the link:

In “Going Rogue: An American Life,” Sarah Palin has written six chapters that detail her life’s experiences, from her earliest days in Alaska to last year’s GOP presidential campaign to her eventual decision to resign as the state’s governor.

Palin dedicates the 413-page memoir, which The Wall Street Journal purchased from a bookstore on Friday, to “all Patriots who share my love of the United States of America. And particularly to our women and men in uniform, past and present–God bless the fight for freedom.”

In other news from the crazy world of Sarah Palin, she apparently wanted to sue Andrew Sullivan for libel for his Daily Dish blogging. Too bad she didn’t follow through. As Sullivan blogged yesterday, discovery alone would have been worth the price of that ticket.

November 13, 2009

Low-cost small business and residential security

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:10 pm

An interesting product from Schlage. And more options coming soon from Black & Decker.

From the link:

Schlage LiNK consists of video cameras, remote-control dead bolts, lighting-control systems and remote monitors. Pricing starts at $299 for a dead bolt. A wireless camera runs $179. Light controllers cost $49. All are designed for easy installation.

“They require only a screwdriver,” boasts Steven Samolinski, solution manager for Schlage.

The US government holds the most gold …

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:15 pm

… reserves in the world and doesn’t plan on selling bullion anytime soon.

Fun facts about the Fed.

Another fun fact is this image:

Gold had been the standard currency for international trade for centuries. In fact, the Federal Reserve vault in New York has compartments for different countries. When one country would trade with another, a “sitter” would simply move bars from one compartment to another, according to David Girardin, spokesman for the New York Fed.

The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009

This is a pretty nice rundown on the bill’s specs.

From the link:

The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 (H.R. 3548) was signed into law by President Obama on November 6, 2009. The bill began as a simple extension of unemployment insurance benefits but then several tax provisions were added to it, namely the expansion and extension of both the home buyer tax credit and the net operating loss (NOL) carryback rules.

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